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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Yaffe

Happy (early) anniversary

The years 2011-2018 saw a host of important Jane Austen bicentenaries, both happy and sad --the 200th anniversaries of the publications of all her novels, plus the 200th anniversary of her untimely death. And next year will bring what is arguably the biggest anniversary of all, marking 250 years since Austen’s birth on December 16, 1775.


The celebrations of this milestone are bound to be numerous and widespread. And to start things off, the Jane Austen Society of North America is offering free student memberships for 2024 and 2025.


Available to anyone studying for a high school, college, trade school, or post-graduate degree, the student membership offers digital access to JASNA’s publications, affiliation with a JASNA regional chapter, and the chance to participate (although not for free!) in such activities as the Annual General Meeting and the yearly tour of Austen sites in England.


Even without the bicentenary deal, a JASNA student membership costs only $20 a year, so I’m not sure how much difference the freebie will make to most young Janeites. Back when I was a first-year college student, I could manage JASNA’s $10 annual fee ($15 by the time I graduated), although the $100 lifetime membership (which rose to $300 by graduation) felt entirely out of reach. Student memberships, originally $15 a year, weren’t established until 1994, by which time my student days were long behind me.


Nowadays, JASNA charges $30 for an all-digital annual membership and $500 for an all-digital life membership; with print publications included, those costs rise to $45 and $750, respectively.


Still, even if the free student memberships don’t represent huge savings, every penny counts—as Jane Austen, who kept careful track of her earnings and expenses and spent a good portion of her adult life in straitened circumstances, surely knew. And minting a new generation of Janeites? Priceless.


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